Arts festival includes world class artists and musicians

Home 2008 archive Arts festival includes world class artists and musicians

Joshua Kinser

Published: October 26, 2005

On the first weekend in November historic Seville Square will host the annual Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival. Regarded by some as the most popular art festival in America, the three-day, juried art show welcomes more than 200 of the nation’s best painters, potters, sculptors, jewelers, graphic artists, craftsmen, mixed-media artists and musicians.

Under the oaks and in the shade of the park watch out for paint, wood-chips and candle wax that will be flying from the kids’ projects booths and old world crafts area. Keep your eyes peeled for the year’s collected best works of art that will be displayed in frames and under loose, rippling white canvas tents; taking many shapes, sizes and mediums.

Listen closely for the diverse styles of music that will weave its way through the air among crowds of weekend art enthusiasts and between the low hanging branches of native live oaks.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of you know who, but the local and regional talent that has been assembled for this year’s event will certainly be able to make up for lost time.

Every year the festival hosts regional, national, and local artisans and invites a well regarded International artist. This year’s invited international master artist will be Valentyn Filipenko.  Filipenko, an artist from Odessa in the Ukraine, “is very well regarded in his homeland for his oil-on-canvas paintings rich in colors, expression and emotions that form a clear and charming artistic style,” according to the festival’s Web site that can be found at

After qualified jurors review more than 600 sets of artists’ work, only 200 are invited to exhibit their art. The artists compete for a total of $25,000 in prize money.

This year quite a few local artists made the cut including J.C. Nowlin from Navarre, Beau Stahl, Joseph A. Hobbs, Louise Waters, Kreg Yingst, and Karen Chen from Pensacola, and Meredith Hartsfield and Lynn Ashley Rafferty from Gulf Breeze. The other 192 artists participating in the juried art show will be traveling from cities spanning the country from Miami Beach to Seattle, Wash.

Meredith Hartsfield of Gulf Breeze works in hot glass and skillfully crafts glass beads and jewelry that she describes as “distinctive, different and fresh; small and meticulous fascinating work.”

“I see that not a lot of local artists are selected for the show, so that does my ego loads of good,” Hartsfield joked. “The festival is really a wonderful event and everyone is very excited about being able to have it this year, especially since it was cancelled because of the hurricane last year.”

Music also is an integral part of the festival that brings a little warmth and festive atmosphere to the cool fall park and provides a worthy soundtrack for the collective artists’ masterpieces.

“(The festival) is a great celebration of a variety of art forms; visual arts, heritage arts and performing arts. I like the chance to present musical styles and artists that aren’t heard at other festivals; folk, bluegrass, jazz, and classical,” said Dale Riegle, coordinator for Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival main stage.

The Porchdogs will bring their blend of Zydeco, Cajun and blues to this year’s festival. Local progressive world music trio “Luna Mantra” is scheduled to perform their original works that explore cultural music from tango to Middle Eastern, bluegrass to flamenco by infusing traditional sounds and rhythms with high energy, danceable modern grooves and melodies.

The Moon Shine Babies feature members of the legendary and unbelievably talented Trapp family. Suzanne Schmitt, an independent singer & songwriter teams up with multi-instrumentalist & singer Jerry Trapp and creative percussionist Jim Trapp to bring an organic and soulful blend of bluegrass, country, and folk. Cliff Knizely will fuse his singer/songwriter material with solo guitar pieces. Holly Shelton and Bobby Van Deusen both bring jazz to the festival and the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra’s classical and pops performance will close the long and diverse weekend of music.

The performing arts stage will also showcase theater, folk and ballet dance, even the occasional bag pipe band.

More than 200 of the nation’s best painters, potters, sculptors, jewelers, graphic artists, craftsmen, mixed-media artists and musicians will fill the shady lawn of Seville Square on November 4 6. With the community in Pensacola anxious to celebrate its recovery from the past two years of relentless hurricanes, this festival will likely be the perfect opportunity to get our minds into a creative and relaxed space and our bodies moving to the diverse festive music this fall.